Electrical Safety Training and LOTO Means Employees Don’t Gamble With Their Lives

One of the chief hazards of working with modern machinery is electricity, an inherently dangerous, but versatile source of energy. The dangers, ranging from fire to death by electrocution, are most commonly associated with the work of engineers, electricians, and other professionals who come into direct content with power sources when servicing and maintaining overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies.

“But office workers and sales people are also in harms way,” warns Mark Woeppel, President and CEO of Pinnacle Strategies, the company behind Safety-Video.com and a leading distributor of electrical safety training videos. “They work with electricity indirectly and may also be at risk for injury if a machine or system has not been properly shut down.”

Lock and Tag for Safety

In electrical safety training, a lockout-tagout (LOTO) or ‘lock and tag’ procedure is used so that hazardous power sources are isolated and rendered inoperative before any repair or maintenance procedure is begun. LOTO reduces risk and prevents accidents in industry and research settings by putting a system in place to ensure that dangerous machines are properly shut off and, just as importantly, are not started up again prior to the completion of maintenance or servicing work.

To achieve a safe lockout/tagout, it is necessary to follow these six steps:

Prepare for LOTO
Control the energy source
Isolate the equipment
Attach the lock and tag
Control stored energy
Verify zero energy state
The ‘lock’ portion of the procedure usually involves locking the power source with a hasp (a hinged metal plate is fitted over a staple and is locked with a pin or padlock). “The hasp is placed in a way that prohibits hazardous power sources from being turned on,” says Woeppel. “Then, a ‘tag’ is affixed to the locked device to indicate that it should not be turned on.”

Start-up procedures are also codified into a three-step process:

Remove lockout device and tags
Notify affected employees
OSHA Recommendations

Workplace electrical safety training and established electrical safety procedures can insulate employees from a wide range of hazards and accidents. OSHA provides numerous safety-related guidelines in its regulations for working with electrical equipment, including…

If the insulating capability of protective equipment may be subject to damage during use, the insulating material shall be protected.
Employees shall wear non-conductive head protection wherever there is a danger of head injury from electric shock or burns due to contact with energized parts.
Employees shall wear protective equipment for the eyes or face wherever there is danger of injury to the eyes or face from electric arcs or flashes or from flying objects resulting from electrical explosion.
When working near exposed energized conductors or circuit parts, each employee shall use insulated tools and handling equipment if the tools or handling equipment might make contact with such conductors or parts.
Fuse handling equipment, insulated for the circuit voltage, shall be used to remove or install fuses when the fuse terminals are energized.

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